In "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", how does the author develop the character Ichabod Crane?Give specific details and explanations about the characterization.

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Ichabod Crane is the tall, gangly schoolteacher in Sleepy Hollow, a town north of New York City, on the Hudson River. The author develops his character into a geeky-type of country school teacher, not very manly, who is prone to a wild imagination. His name, "crane", describes his physical characteristics because he is talk and gawky and has a neck like a crane (a bird). He has long arms and legs, and a pin head. His ears are big and stick out.

He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew.

He looks like a scarecrow coming from a distance, the author tells us. He was a strict teacher who did not "spare the rod and spoil the child." However, he was not very fair. Since he himself was wimpy, whenever he had to discipline a wimpy child and the child cried, he let up on that child and instead took out his discipline and anger on the stronger, Dutch children. He was a man with issues.

He played with the older children, and took some of the younger ones home, especially if they had pretty sisters. He was looking for a woman. He was also the singing master for the community. He was poor, having to live with the families of his students, and although skinny, he had a huge appetite:

had the dilating powers of an anaconda

Since he was a schoolteacher, he had some degree of respect in the community and liked to impress the young ladies with his knowledge while the other country bumpkins, uneducated, would stand around jealously. It is this show-off, prideful type of attitude that got him in trouble with people like Brom Bones.

Crane liked to read, and one of his favorite works was Cotton Mather's "History of New England Witchcraft." The region in which he lived, and which Washington Irving wrote about, was the Hudson Valley, settled by the Dutch. The region was awash with all sorts of myths and superstitions, and Crane was a fan. So it was easy to manipulate him into thinking that the Headless Horseman was real.

Read the study guide:
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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